|When I visited the town of Luang Prabang, Laos, I was informed that there would be a line of Buddhist begging priests in early morning. I got up early to see it in the street. Hundreds of monks, wearing vivid orange robes, walked on the street, barefoot, in single line. On the street, there were people, sitting and waiting, with food for the monks to eat that day. As the monks passed in front of them, they put food donations into the begging bowl little by little. What amazed me was that in spite of the long line of monks, all I heard was the sound of footsteps and the occasional clattering of the dishes. When I saw the dignity of the serene ritual and the people’s faith, I was deeply touched and overwhelmed by its atmosphere I felt on site. Tears welled up in my eyes and I had a hard time focusing the camera.
In the countries of Southeast Asia, Buddhism is deeply rooted in everyday living. Relatively conservative Theravada Buddhism has spread in Southeast Asia. In Laos, almost all boys enter a temple at some point and live as a monk. In the temples of Laos are schools. Students there study just like at any other school. When I talked to a young monk, he wanted to practice English with me. And in their notebooks, they noted organic chemical formulas like benzene.
Luang Prabang is a world-famous tourist site. Many Westerners come to visit every day. The monks were very friendly to people from other countries.